By Matt Kroschel

LEADVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) – Skiers holding onto a rope attached to a horse raced down Harrison Avenue in Leadville Sunday.

It’s part of what has become a crowd favorite and unique sporting event.

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(credit: CBS)

Skijoring has come to the small town located at 10,200 feet above sea level for 70 years.

And the sport, which is one part ski race and one part rodeo, is quickly growing in popularity.

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(credit: CBS)

“Usually this is a state highway. Now, it’s a state race track,” Jason Decker, a competitor from Denver, told CBS4 as he made a final inspection of the course before the big event.

“It’s a team event consisting of a skier, a rider and a horse,” Decker said.

Local police estimate thousands turned out for the event.

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(credit: CBS)

“There a whole lot going on to put together a good run,” Decker said..

Participants are judged on their time and their ability to collect rings hanging along the course. And then, there are crashes.

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(credit: CBS)

“It’s a bit like watching NASCAR,” one spectator said.

“Be there all the way to the end in about 17 seconds flat,” Decker told our CBS4 mountain newsroom.

The thousands of spectators are leaving a major impact on Leadville at what would normally be a slow part of the season. Restaurants and coffee shops are full and souvenir shops are reporting an uptick in business.

They hold National Skijoring events in other small Colorado towns, but Leadville bills itself as the “granddaddy of them all.”

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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